OVERNIGHT REVIEW: Broadway with a twist from Pasadena Pops

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News

What if an orchestra presented a summertime Broadway-themed concert and Rodgers and Hammerstein didn’t show up? That’s what the Pasadena Pops almost did last night at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.

Of the nearly three-dozen songs on the program, only one was by the iconic duo. Instead, the Pops spotlighted four beautiful and talented Broadway female vocalists and one hunky (and talented) male. Along with delivering a first-rate program, they emphatically demonstrated that there’s been a lot of life on The Great White Way since R&H left the scene more than half a century ago.

The Pops’ resident conductor, Larry Blank, presided over a well-paced program and the orchestra provided stylish accompaniment throughout. The ensemble also got its moments in the spotlight with renditions of Song on the Sand from La Cage Aux Folles and Leonard Bernstein’s Candide Overture.

However, the spotlight was on the vocalists: Susan Egan, Valeri Perri, Christina Saffran, Lisa Vroman and David Burnham.

There were several touching moments and a surprise during the evening. Egan, Perri and Saffran (with some well-time peacocks counterpoint) offered a poignant rendition of At the Ballet from A Chorus Line by the Pops’ late principal conductor, Marvin Hamlisch. Later in the second half, Vroman delivered an operatic performance of If I Loved You from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, just two days after Richard’s daughter, Mary, died at the age of 83. In dedicating the performance to Mary Rodgers, Blank noted that she was involved in the R&H Foundation, which owns and licensed much of the music on the program.

The surprise was Egan’s powerful rendition of the world premiere of Every Time We Touch from an unproduced musical by Richard Kagan and Michael Jay. Kagan had been friends with Hamlisch for 48 years and was with him when Hamlisch died suddenly on August 6, 2012 at the age of 68.

As Blank related, Kagan had harbored thoughts of becoming a composer but after he heard Hamlisch play, Kagan recalls, “it changed my life. I was overwhelmed by his talent. I knew for me it was time to go into the insurance business.” For the next four decades, Kagan ran a successful life insurance business in L.A. but apparently he has had second thoughts about the musical theatre.

Burnham and Vroman provided one of the evening’s highlights with their heartfelt rendition of All I Ask of You from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. Perri brought great emotion to Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina from Evita, while Saffran displayed a gorgeous voice in I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables.

Although Judy Garland didn’t have a Broadway stage career, she figured prominently in the evening’s proceedings. Perri sang an arrangement written for Garland of Almost Like Being in Love from Brigadoon, while later Egan brought her unique touch to a medley of Garland songs from the movies, concluding with (what else?) Over the Rainbow.

Hemidemisemiquavers:
• Now in its third season at the Arboretum, the Pops continues to settle in nicely. The video screens on either side of the stage seem to have much sharper definition this year and the camera work was, for the most part, quite satisfactory. The only oddity was that Perri’s purple gown showed up bright blue on the video, although the other ladies’ gowns seemed to translate well on screen.
• One major problem from previous years, a lack of lighting on the pathway leading to the south exit after the concert, has been rectified thanks to dozens of young volunteers armed with flashlights.
• Although not many people seemed to realize it, the Pops has “gone green” by publishing its playlists on its Web site (www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org) and on a free app downloadable for tablets and smart phones. A limited number of paper copies were available last night.
• Fortunately last night was the only concert this summer where the Pops goes head to head with the California Philharmonic at nearby Santa Anita Racetrack. At least one patron got on the wrong shuttle and ended up at the Arboretum instead of the other location.
• Last night was also the only concert of the summer that didn’t invite Principal Pops Conductor Michael Feinstein, who returns on July 19 to sing music by George and Ira Gershwin with Blank again on the podium (LINK). Feinstein will conduct the final two concerts of the summer on Aug. 16 and Sept. 6.
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(c) Copyright 2014, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

PREVIEW: Michael Feinstein appears with Pasadena Pops in four summer concerts

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News

To no one’s great surprise, summer with the Pasadena Pops will be a Michael Feinstein affair as the singer-conductor-curator will appear in four of the five Pops programs at the Los Angeles County Arboretum beginning June 7.

The Pops’ gamble on hiring Feinstein as its Principal Conductor paid off big dividends last summer and the organization moved quickly to capitalize on that success in planning the upcoming season. Feinstein will conduct three of the summer programs and will appear as a singer in an all Gershwin-concert on July 19.

The concerts:
June 7:
Feinstein will lead a program of music by Harry Warren, Richard Rodgers, Nelson Riddle, Henry Mancini and Alfred Newman, and the world premiere of a piece by André Previn, which was originally part of a movie score that never materialized. Vocalists Laura Osnes and Norm Lewis and pianist Armen Guzelimian will be guests.

June 28:
On the only program not involving Feinstein on stage, composer-producer-songwriter Tena Clark appears with Dionne Warwick, Sheléa Frazier, Sara Niemetz and the orchestra’s resident conductor, Larry Blank.

July 19:
Feinstein puts aside his baton to sing Gershwin and selections from other composers.

August 16:
Feinstein curates and conducts music from the silver screen — Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures and Walt Disney. Debby Boone, Alan Bergman, Maureen McGovern and Kevin Early will also appear.

September 6:
In a program entitled “New York! New York!, Feinstein turns to music that celebrates the Big Apple. Patti Austin, Liz Callaway and Jeremy Jordan are on the program.

• The complete media release and artists’ photos are HERE
• For information and ticket ordering, click HERE
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(c) Copyright 2014, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

OVERNIGHT REVEW: Feinstein, Pasadena Pops close season in style

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News

Russell-Feinstein
Vocalist Catherine Russell, conductor Michael Feinstein and the Pasadena Pops lit up the night in an arrangement of Gershwin tunes at the Los Angeles County Arboretum. (Photo by Steve Sabel for the Pasadena Pops)
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When the Pasadena Pops hired Michael Feinstein to replace Marvin Hamlisch as its Principal Conductor shortly after Hamlisch died unexpectedly on Aug. 6, 2012, the orchestra was taking quite a gamble. Although Feinstein is a prolific entertainer and musical scholar, he had never conducted an orchestra prior to the Pops’ opening night last June.

To judge by the summer’s results — notably that first concert and Saturday night’s season finale — that gamble has paid off in a jackpot-large way. According to management, attendance at the Los Angeles County Arboretum has been up more than 30 percent and season renewals for next season have increased more than 200 percent. It’s no surprise that the board wasted no time extending Feinstein’s contract through the 2016 season.

Feinstein has worked on the music of George and Ira Gershwin since pianist Oscar Levant introduced Feinstein to Ira in 1977. Since then, Feinstein has been researching, cataloguing and preserving unpublished Gershwin sheet music and rare recordings, including a six-year-sojourn in the Gershwin’s home.

Thus it’s no surprise that last night’s concert, entitled “The Gershwins and Me,” included 20 Gershwin tunes, many of which were performed in arrangements that had not been played before or at least since their premieres.

As has been the case in all Feinstein concerts, his commentary Saturday was erudite, insightful and witty, laced with fascinating factoids drawn from Feinstein’s relationship with the Gershwin family and Hollywood. What was different from the opening concert was how much more comfortable Feinstein seemed on the podium (at least judging from the audience side). His beats were concise, his cutoffs more expert, and he seemed to swing and thoroughly enjoy himself, particularly in the arrangements of four songs that Nelson Riddle made for Ella Fitzgerald.

Catherine Russell was a creamy soloist in that set, which began with Nice Work if You Can Get It and ended with The Man I Love. In the second half of the concert, Tom Wopat emphasized lyrics in a set that opened with Love is Here to Stay and concluded with I Got Plenty of Nuttin, the latter using an arrangement that Riddle wrote for Frank Sinatra.

The JPL Chorus (Donald Brinegar, conductor) offered spritely lyrics to I Got Rhythm and the orchestra delivered lush sounds throughout the evening. Among the instrumental soloists, Aimee Kreston, violin, and Bryan Pezzone, piano, were standouts.

Before the final scheduled number, Feinstein sang a winsome arrangement of They Can’t Take That Away From Me from the piano, which he termed a preview of the 2014 season when Feinstein will conduct and/or sing in four of the five Pops programs beginning June 7, 2014. Judging by the audience’s reaction, that date will be eagerly awaited.
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HEMIDEMISEMIQUAVERS:
• Last night was Feinstein’s 57th birthday; the orchestra and audience serenaded him with Happy Birthday prior to the concert.
• Among the celebrities in the audience, Feinstein introduced before the concert’s end Mark Gershwin and other members of the Gershwin family, Patricia Kelly (widow of dancer-singer-actor-director Gene), Ginny Mancini (widow of composer Henry), singer Debby Boone (also known to us old fogies as daughter of crooner Pat) and actress Betty White, who Feinstein noted is older than Rhapsody in Blue (look it up).
• The camera work was spotty most of the evening. Sometimes they got the correct soloist (albeit a note or two late); at other times they were totally off base, which can be disconcerting for those watching. Directing a concert is an art form in itself.
• The Pops will offer its annual free “Music Under the Stars” concert on Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Pasadena City Hall plaza. The orchestra’s resident conductor, Larry Blank, will lead the program. INFO
• The Pasadena Symphony opens its indoor season on Nov. 2 at 2 and 8 p.m. in Ambassador Auditorium when newly appointed Music Director David Lockington will lead a program that will include what CEO Paul Jan Zdunek joked last night will probably be the final performance in 2013 of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (this year marks the centennial of the piece’s Paris debut and seemingly every orchestra in Southern California — and probably the world — has programmed it this year). Fortunately, it remains fresh and provocative each time I hear it. INFO
• Brinegar and the JPL Chorus opened the evening with The Star-Spangled Banner, accompanied by snare drum.
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(c) Copyright 2013, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

AROUND/MUSIC: SW Chamber opens Huntington season on another “clash Saturday”

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
This article was first published today in the above papers.

As if you couldn’t tell from last week’s heat wave, summer is really upon us and our burgeoning music season reflects the seasonal change.

Southwest Chamber Music begins its 20th season in the Loggia of the Huntington Library in San Marino next Saturday and Sunday. The music begins at 7:30 p.m. Preconcert, three-course dinners are available by prior reservation from the Huntington’s Tea Room or you can bring your own picnic and enjoy it on the lawn. As a bonus, sections of the library are open to ticketholders prior to the concert and at intermission.

This weekend’s programs include Hums and Songs of Winnie the Pooh by English composer Oliver Knussen, Stravinsky’s Octet for Winds and Mozart’s Serenade, K. 361. Other programs are July 27 and 28, August 10 and 11 and August 24 and 25. Information: 800/7236-7147; www.swmusic.org

Saturday is one of this summer’s “clash nights.” In addition to Southwest Chamber Music, both the Pasadena Pops and California Philharmonic are performing in their Arcadia locations (thus creating some traffic issues).

Michael Feinstein, the Pasadena Pops’ new principal conductor, returns to the Los Angeles County Arboretum to lead a program celebrating the musical legacy of MGM movies, including Singing in the Rain, Harvey Girls, Gigi, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Wizard of Oz and others. Vocalists Christine Ebersole and Ron Raines will join the festivities. Information: 626/793-7172; www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org.

Meanwhile, the Cal Phil returns to Santa Anita Racetrack on Saturday for one of Music Director Victor Vener’s perennial programming favorites: “Andrew Lloyd Webber Meets Puccini.” Singers Lori Stinson, Christine Campbell and Cedric Berry and the Cal Phil Chorale will join the orchestra for music by two of the world’s best-known composers. The program repeats July 14 at 2 p.m. indoors at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Information: 626/300-8200; www.calphil.org

Although Hollywood Bowl has presented several pops concerts during the last month, the Los Angeles Philharmonic opens its 10-week classical season at the iconic Cahuenga Pass amphitheater Tuesday night. Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony, returns home to lead the Phil, Los Angeles Master Chorale and soloists Kiera Duffy and Sasha Cooke in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection).

On Thursday, Thomas leads the orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Dubinushka, along with Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, with Gil Shaham as soloist.

Next week, Bramwell Tovey returns to the Bowl stage on July 16 to lead the Phil in a Britten-Elgar-Sibelius program. On July 18, Tovey conducts a program that concludes with Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.

Information: 323/850-2000; www.hollywoodbowl.com.

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(c) Copyright 2013, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

(Revised) OVERNIGHT REVIEW: Michael Feinstein debuts as Pasadena Pops conductor

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
______________________

Pasadena Pops Orchestra; Michael Feinstein, conductor
Saturday, Sept. 1, 2013 • Los Angeles County Arboretum
Next performance: June 29
Information: www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org
______________________
Feinstein-White
Michael Feinstein and Lari White perform at last night’s concert by the Pasadena Pops at the Los Angeles County Arboretum. Photo from Pasadena Pops
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Midway through the Pasadena Pops concert last night at the Los Angeles County Arboretum, Michael Feinstein thanked the audience for accompanying him and the orchestra on what he called an “experiment” in pops programming.

The description was spot-on. This was Feinstein’s first concert as the orchestra’s Principal Conductor and his first time conducting a full-sized orchestra. Whatever you thought of his conducting ability, there was no doubting the uniquely fascinating nature of the evening’s program, Of the 19 pieces performed, I can only remember two or three that I had ever heard on an orchestra pops program in my decades of reviewing.

Feinstein played to his numerous strengths. His commentary was, for the most part, erudite and witty and many of the works were pieces he had either exhumed in his archival wanderings or had rarely been played before. Nearly all were from the mid- to late-20th century, an era in which Feinstein has focused in what has become known as the “Great American Songbook.”

As a conductor, Feinstein seemed uncomfortable at times and in his element in others. There were occasional ragged entrances and cutoffs but, for the most part, the orchestra acquitted itself well, especially considering that for many of the players a healthy slice of the program was music they were playing for the first time. Feinstein will undoubtedly get better on the podium; most fledgling conductors cut their teeth on student or community ensembles, not on a stage before several thousand people.

In the first half of the evening vocalist Lari White delivered powerful performances of Jump for Joy and Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, both arranged by Nelson Riddle, whose birthday was on June 1. She then concluded with poignant renditions of Where is it Written? and A Piece of the Sky from the movie Yentl.

Marc Cherry proved to be the evening’s comedic highlight with a rollicking performance of Mrs. Worthington by Noel Coward. Cheyenne Jackson delivered over-wrought performances of I Get Along With You Very Well and Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, but was effective in channeling Sam Cooke in A Change is Gonna Come. Jackson noted that Barbara Cook once admonished him to talk less and sing more. He should have heeded her advice.

Feinstein concluded the evening by singing a touching rendition of The Way We Were from the keyboard, a tribute to Marvin Hamlisch, who died last August (which is how Feinstein ended up as the Pops leader). Feinstein’s opening concert offered a great deal of promise for what he will bring in the two other programs he will conduct this summer and, perhaps, into the future.
_______________________

Hemidemisemiquavers:
• The Pops will appear June 9 at the Ford Amphitheatre (in the Cahuenga Pass, across the 101 Freeway from Hollywood Bowl) with vocalist Mandy Patinkin. The performance is part of the inaugural “Zev Yaroslavsky Signature Series” at the Ford (Yaroslavsky’s L.A. County supervisorial district encompasses both the Ford and the Bowl). Info: www.fordtheatres.org
• Last night’s ambience was enhanced greatly by what seemed like hundreds of young volunteers who helped people to their seats and, in particular, provided light on the footpaths leading to the parking lots following the performance.
• Concertmaster Ainme Kreston led a somewhat lugubrious rendition of The Star Spangled Banner from her first-violin chair.
• Feinstein had a lot of fun with the Arboretum’s peacocks, many of whom were in fine voice Saturday night.
• The Pops second concert of the season, on June 29, will center on Broadway star Bernadette Peters. Feinstein will return on July 13 for an evening of music from MGM movies, and will conclude the season on Sept. 7 in an evening of the music of George and Ira Gershwin. In between those two, Martin Herman will lead the orchestra in a program featuring music of the Beatles.
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(c) Copyright 2013, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

(Revised) OVERNIGHT REVIEW: Marvin Hamlisch and Pasadena Pops conclude season at the Rose Bowl

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

______________________

 

Pasadena Pops
Orchestra; Marvin Hamlisch, conductor

Saturday, August 27, 2011 The Lawn Adjacent to the Rose
Bowl

______________________

 

Marvin Hamlisch and the Pasadena Pops Orchestra concluded
their 2012 season last night, Hamlisch’s first with the orchestra and the
ensemble’s second and last at The Lawn Adjacent to the Rose Bowl (they move to
the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia next season). What appeared to be
the largest crowd of the season came out on a balmy evening to hear music from
the movies.

 

Hamlisch spent somewhat more time regaling the audience with
funny stories than he did in his last concert and the musical selections were
longer than has occurred this summer; the evening included, among other things,
multi-work pastiches from composers George and Ira Gershwin and Max Steiner.
One of the evening’s highlights was a tribute to dancer-director-actor Gene
Kelly, which featured a “tap-dancing” display by percussionist Jason Goodman who
had the shoes (and argyle socks) on his hands so that the audience could see, as
well as hear.

 

Vocalist Susan Egan was a sparkling soloist in pieces by
Judy Garland (ending, of course, with Over
the Rainbow)
and from the musical Cabaret
(Egan played the role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret on Broadway in the 1988 revival).

 

As has become standard for Hamlisch concerts with the
Pasadena Pops, he offered a “special unannounced guest,” in this case, Melissa
Manchester, who sang Through the Eyes of
Love
(the theme song written by Hamlisch for the movie Ice Castles) and the title song from The Way We Were, for which Hamlisch won an Academy Award in 1973.

 

The second half opened with the music written by John
Williams for Star Wars, which was
supposed to be accompanied by space images from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
but they never appeared.

 

The evening’s “official” program closed with George
Gershwin’s An American in Paris, the
most extensive piece Hamlisch has conducted so far with the Pops. Hamlisch
alternated between catching the jazz influences of this important piece and
dutifully beating time. However, the orchestra, which played splendidly
throughout the evening, shone in Gershwin’s famous 1928 piece, which was
subsequently used in the 1951 MGM musical that starred Gene Kelley and Leslie
Caron.

 

Along the way were spiffy solo offerings by orchestra’s
principals: Trumpeter Melissa Benedict, Flutist Louise DiTullio, Clarinetist
Donald Foster, Oboist Leanne Becknell and Concertmaster Amy Hirshberger.

_______________________

 

Hemidemisemiquavers:

Before the concert, CEO Paul Jan Zdunek reported that
ticket sales for next season have already exceeded 500% of the recently completed
season. Since he didn’t provide hard numbers, it’s a little hard to judge that increase
effectively but it does appear that the move to the Arcadia facility seems to
be popular with many people.

Helicopter are a nuisance at all outdoor concerts but the
low-flying and circling aerial intruder last night wins the year’s award as the
summer’s most obnoxious distraction, so far.

The video camera work continues to be very spotty, batting
about .333 in landing on the correct soloist at any orchestral point in the
program. In an area that makes a gazillion movies, TV shows, TV commercials,
et. al, one would think that the direction and camera work could be better.

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

NEWS AND LINKS: Pasadena Pops announces 2012 season at Los Angeles County Arboretum

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

 

54720-MichaelFeinstein.jpg

Michael Feinstein will
perform with the Pasadena Pops on July 21, 2012 at the Los Angeles County
Arboretum in Arcadia.

________________________

 

When the Pasadena Pops shifts its summer season to the Los
Angeles County Arboretum next year, it will do so with a boost in soloist star
power. Marvin Hamlisch, who took over this summer as the Pops principal
conductor, will lead three of the four programs in the Arcadia facility next
summer (Hamlisch and the Pops conclude their 2011 season on Aug. 27 at The Lawn
Adjacent to the Rose Bowl with a program devoted to movie music — LINK).

 

The 2012 schedule:

 

JUNE 16

Lucie Arnaz and Robert Klein will perform together in a
concert version of Hamlisch’s They’re
Playing Our Song,
part of a program that will include a tribute to Arnaz’s
parents, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

 

JULY 21

Singer and pianist Michael Feinstein, one of the forces
behind The Great American Songbook, will
join with Hamlisch and the Pops. The 54-year-old Feinstein has five Grammy nominations to
his credit along with several platinum-selling recordings.

 

AUGUST 18

Michael Krajewski, who opened this summer’s Pops season,
returns to lead the orchestra in a program that will feature the singing group
Poperazi, a trio whose numbers range from (to quote the media release) “Pavarotti
to Jersey Boys, Sinatra to the Rolling Stones.” Krajewski, who proved to be a
stylish, witty host and conductor last June, is principal pops conductor for
the Houston, Jacksonville and Atlanta Symphonies.

 

SEPTEMBER 8

Hamlisch will return to lead the Pops in a program of music
entitled “Gershwin on the Green.” American
pianist Kevin Cole will be the evening’s soloist.

 

All concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Single tickets are
priced from $90-$25 (unchanged from this summer). Subscription packages will include
discounted prices and free onsite parking.


Information:
626/793-7172, ext. 16; www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Cleaning out the inbox

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

A shorter version of this
article was first published today in the above papers.

 

THE PASADENA POPS
AND THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY ARBORETUM
have finalized a contract for the
orchestra to appear at the Arcadia facility beginning next summer. The
three-year agreement with an "evergreen" clause will also see the Pops become
the Arboretum's presenting partner. Dates for the Pops' concerts in 2012 are
June 26, July 21, August 18 and September 8. Happily for fans of both the Pops
and the California Philharmonic -- which shifts from the Arboretum to next-door Santa
Anita Racetrack next summer -- that means the two organizations will not
conflict on dates, a good thing from a parking and traffic point of view. The
Pops also envisions "family concerts, outdoor theatre, silent films, as well as
Asian-influenced performances, to name a few," according to Paul Jan
Zdunek, CEO of the Pasadena Symphony Association; programming details will follow
in the coming weeks. MORE

 

MUSE-IQUE, the
new ensemble headed by former Pops music director Rachael Worby, will appear in
a free concert of American music on the steps of Pasadena's City Hall at 6 p.m.
on Sept. 11 commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

 

THE LOS ANGELES
PHILHARMONIC
has promoted outgoing associate conductor Lionel Bringuier to
the new post of resident conductor through the 2012/2013 season. MORE

 

GUSTAVO DUDAMEL,
music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will be featured on a new DGG box
set of CDs next month conducting the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra of Sweden
(one of three orchestras he currently helms) in Bruckner's Symphony No. 9,
Sibelius's Symphony No. 2 and Nielsen's Symphonies No. 5 and. 4 (The Inextinguishable).

 

Gramophone Magazine
(which is published in England) devotes its cover story for the August 2011
issue to Dudamel and this new recording. It's an interesting article but not
easy to find. The print edition costs $10 (U.S.) and the only way to find it
online at this point is to subscribe ($63.14 per year or $16.21 for three
months). Like other digital magazines, you get the full pages and have to
scroll through them (i.e., they're not converted to easily readable text).
However, the publication does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee if you're not
satisfied.

 

Los Angeles Times
Music Critic Mark Swed dwells on Dudamel's upcoming DGG release, which Dudamel
recorded at the beginning of his tenure with the Swedish orchestra (he became
that ensemble's music director in 2007; next season will be his sixth and last
in that capacity, although he will continue to work with the ensemble as its "honorary
conductor").

 

Two things make this upcoming recording intriguing, as Swed
points out in the article. First, the works are pieces that Dudamel has yet to
conduct in Los Angeles. Second, the performances show him at a very young age
(he was 26 when he came to Sweden) and he talks with Swed about how his
concepts have changed -- and are changing -- even in just a few years. The
article shows us a different side of Dudamel than we've seen so far in L.A.
BTW: there's a great photo of young Gustavo -- wearing glasses and with short
hair. You might not recognize him without the caption!

 

THE L.A. PHIL has
announced the 2011-2012 participants in the Dudamel Fellowship Program: Joshua Dos Santos of Venezuela, Mihaela Cesa-Goje of Romania (the first
woman ever selected for the fellowship), Courtney
Lewis
of Northern Ireland and Boston, and Santtu Rouvali of Finland.

 

Each of the four conductors spends 4-6 weeks working with
Dudamel, Phil musicians and with students in LAPO education programs. During
their time (Santos, Lewis and Rouvali will have two time blocks), the fellows
will both observe and gain hands-on experience. The Dudamel Fellowship was
instituted in 2009. One of the inaugural class, Perry So, is leading Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings on Tuesday's Hollywood Bowl program and a
member of last year's class, Joshua
Weilerstein,
was recently named as one of two assistant conductors at the
New York Philharmonic (MORE). Details on the new class are HERE.

 

JOANN FALLETTA,
who once headed up the Long Beach Symphony, has renewed her contracts with the
Buffalo Philharmonic and Virginia Symphony and been named principal conductor
of the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

 

The Buffalo Philharmonic contract takes her through the
2015-2016 season; she was the first woman to head a major orchestra when she
took over that position in 1999 at the age of 45. The Virginia Symphony
contract is for another three years with an option for an additional two years.
She becomes the first American and first woman to serve with the Ulster
Orchestra.

 

Violinist JOSHUA
BELL,
who is appearing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic next week at
Hollywood Bowl (DETAILS), has been named music director of the

Academy of
St.-Martin-in-the-Fields in London. According to Gramophone, Bell will conduct performances from the violin chair as
opposed to standing on a podium (at the Bowl he will lead the Phil in Vivaldi's
The Four Seasons while playing the
solo parts). Kenneth Sillito remains as the ASMF artistic director and will
also conduct. Pianist Murray Perahia has been the group's principal guest conductor
for several years.

 

THE L.A. PHIL has
announced the 2011-2012 participants in the Dudamel Fellowship Program: Joshua Dos Santos of Venezuela, Mihaela Cesa-Goje of Romania, Courtney Lewis of Northern Ireland and
Boston, and Santtu Rouvali of
Finland.

 

Each of the four conductors spends 4-6 weeks working with
Dudamel, Phil musicians and with students in LAPO education programs. During
their time (Santos, Lewis and Rouvali will have two time blocks), the fellows
will both observe and gain hands-on experience. The Dudamel Fellowship was
instituted in 2009. One of the inaugural class, Perry So, is leading
Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings on
Tuesday's Hollywood Bowl program and a member of last year's class, Joshua
Weilerstein, was recently named as one of two assistant conductors at the New
York Philharmonic (MORE). Details on the new class are HERE.

 

UPCOMING NOTABLE
CONCERTS:
The Cal Phil plays
today at 2 p.m. in Walt Disney Concert Hall and concludes its 2011 summer
season on Aug. 21 at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and 22 at Disney Hall
(DETAILS)

 

Southwest Chamber
Music
concludes its summer festival at The Huntington Library tonight at
7:30 p.m. and August 20-21, also at 7:30 p.m. (DETAILS)

 

John Mauceri returns to conduct the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, which he founded 20 years ago, on Aug.
19, 20 and 21, playing the score to Walt Disney's 1940 movie classic "Fantasia"
while the movie is shown on the Bowl's large screens. (DETAILS). This is one of
my "don't miss" concerts of the Bowl season.

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(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

NEWS AND LINKS: Pasadena Pops, Los Angeles County Arboretum finalize agreement for 2012 and beyond; new details emerge

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

 

Turning yet another page in a five-month-long saga, the
Pasadena Pops and the Los Angeles County Arboretum have finalized a multi-year
agreement that will see the Pops move to the Arcadia facility next summer as
both the facility’s resident orchestra and presenting partner.

 

The contract is for three years with an evergreen clause,
says Paul Zdunek, CEO of the Pasadena Symphony Association, which runs both the
Pops and the Pasadena Symphony. (Under a normal evergreen clause, a contract
automatically extends year by year unless one of the parties to the agreement
gives notice to cancel.)

 

The Pops announced that it will play at the Arboretum in
2012 on June 26, July 21, August 18 and September 8. Happily, for fans of both
the California Philharmonic — which shifts from the Arboretum to Santa Anita
Racetrack next summer (LINK) — that means the two organizations will not
conflict on dates, a good thing from a parking and traffic point of view.

 

Zdunek hopes to provide details on the 2012 season by the
end of this week — the next 2011 Pops concert is Saturday on The Lawn Adjacent
to the Rose Bowl, when the orchestra’s new principal conductor, Marvin Hamlisch,
leads a program devoted to music from the Broadway stage (DETAILS).

 

As the Arboretum’s presenting partner, the Pops also expects
to offer other programming beginning next summer. “We are beginning to work on
that now,” explained Zdunek. “We needed to get the contract done first. We
envision family concerts, outdoor theatre, silent films, as well as Asian-influenced
performances, to name a few.”

 

Among the enhanced amenities envisioned for next year’s
concerts are VIP parking packages for subscribers, multiple entry points for
ticket holders and purchasers; a stage with large LED video screens that will
project stage action using three cameras and an enhanced sound system with
multiple JBL Audio speakers throughout the grounds; and what the Pops is terming “VIP
flushable comfort stations with individual hand-washing facilities inside, air
conditioning and lighting in each unit…that will feel like using another
restroom in an indoor venue.” (Yes, these things actually exist; I’ve seen and
used them before).

 

The Arboretum will mark the Pops’ third venue in four
seasons. After performing at Descanso Gardens in La Caada for more than a
decade, the orchestra shifted to its present location outside the Rose Bowl
last season.

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.